The Kite Runner: A Review

Today across the blogosphere, in support of Banned Books Week, hundreds and hundreds of bloggers are reviewing a banned or challenged book they've read.  Well, I've made no secret of the fact that I suck at reviews (in fact, I hate them – they remind me of doing book reports in school), but because this is an important week, I will contribute my two cents about my favorite challenged book, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Every so often I read a book that makes me so emotional, I can't stop thinking about it for days afterward.  The Kite Runner is a book like this.  Set in the political and religious upheaval of Afghanistan in the 1970s, Amir is a young boy who knows all about the terrible thing that happened to his best friend Hassan.  But instead of speaking up about it, he keeps quiet.  This really bad choice sets him up for a lifetime of guilt and affects every decision he makes, long after Amir and his father flee Afghanistan for the States.  Years later, he's given the opportunity to right some of the past wrongs, but some things are so awful they can never be fixed.

The Kite Runner is a painful read.  It's not sunshine and rainbows, and if you're waiting for some massive, redemptive payoff at the end, you're probably not going to get it.  The one moment of pure joy in the book is marred by an act of extreme violence against one of the most lovable characters.  It made me want to throw the book across the room and stop reading.

Sound depressing?  Well, it is.  But it's also a story that needs telling, because violence against children happens every day, everywhere.  Political oppression is a reality for millions of people.  And at some point in our lives, we've all made terrible decisions we've had to live with.

The Kite Runner is a story about fathers and sons, friendship, choices, political tyranny, and a journey towards redemption.  Hosseini's prose is far from perfect, but his voice is unflinchingly honest.  It's one hell of a debut novel.

Have you read it?  What did you think?


  1. Read it. A very hard read for me. I put it down several times, but always came back to it (so that tells you how compelling I found it).

  2. Well. May I just say that it is not every day that one googles oneself, only to find that there is someone else out there already living (in some fashion) the life that one aspires to. LOL. My name is Jennifer Hillier. I live in Newfoundland. I thought to myself this morning, "Why don't I see if I've made any impact on the internet yet." Sadly it would seem that I have not, whereas you have. :) Not only would it seem that we have a name in common, but also a love of the written word and aspirations of publication. Well, aspirations in my case, reality in yours it would seem. I'm simply fascinated by the coincidence. I'll bet it interrupts my work day today. :D I was going to email you about the coincidence rather than post on your blog in a comment that has nothing to do with the subject of banned books, but then I thought you might find it suspicious receiving an email from an unknown person with the same name as you in the email address. Lol. I admit that I tend to delete such emails myself. In any case, I thought I would leave you a message. Perhaps you would enjoy the coincidence as well as I.

  3. I never got thru it. Not because of the violence, but because I didn't like the style.

    I do however remember it took my a number of tries to get thru "A Time to Kill" because of the violent beginning. (I read it before The Firm was released so I at that time I was reading a book by an "unknown" lol.)

  4. I have not read it. But this book makes me very nervous and curious at the same time. Since having Adam I am SO violently affected by violence against children. Not that I wasn't before, but it's just so different now that I am a parent.

    I'm not sure I can do it, but my curiousity is peaked now...

  5. My husband, sister, and friend all raved about this. Because of the subject matter, I haven't read it. But knowing it's banned is upsetting.

    I wrote about a banned book today.

    You made me laugh about feeling like it's a school book report. My favorite part (and pretty much all my time was spent on it) was making the diorama.

  6. Great review, Jenny! I'm hesitant to pick this one up, but I think you're right - it's an important story.

  7. Jennie: That was pretty much my experience, too.

    Jennifer: WELCOME! I have to admit, the comment from "myself" (complete with my avatar and everything -- how strange is that!) freaked me out this morning. I'll be checking out your blog very soon. :)

    JB: I think "A Time to Kill" is Grisham's best book... and I think he said in an interview that he thought so, too.

    Mel: Yeah, it would be difficult read for anyone, let alone a parent, but it really is a beautiful and interesting story.

    Theresa: Dioramas were fun! I remember I did one on tornadoes using cotton balls I colored gray with my mom's old eyeshadow.

    Joann: The book's definitely not for everyone. You'll know after the first couple of chapters whether or not it's for you.

  8. Disturbing -- both the book and the virtual doppelganger...

  9. I haven't read it, but damn girl, you can't give a great review. Not sure if I'll read this one. I think the subject matter may be difficult and upsetting for me to get through. I really don't enjoy being depressed when I read and this one sounds like it may be extremely difficult to digest. Perhaps when I've caught up on all my other reading, I'll consider this one again, but for now I think I'll hold off.